The word sampler comes from the French word “essamplaire”. Young girls would make a sample of several alphabets and motifs for use later in life. The alphabets were thought to have been used as a teaching tool. We know now that they would have needed the entire alphabet to mark their textile with their initials. As young women they would then embroider or mark their initials onto the household linens. Linens could be washed at home but they needed to be bleached twice a year. That was done by a third party and the "markings" insured you got your property back.
Samplers have become a huge collector’s item.
There is an enormous amount of history and money in antique samplers. Some have had a rough past, kept in the sun or worse still, washed in an attempt to make them look younger. These pieces of material always tell the story of the (usually) young girl who made them. We can also tell something of the provenance of the sampler and the time in history when it was made.
I love samplers, antique but also contemporary textiles that have been hand stitched. I studied Art History in college and my love for history and art was consolidated at that moment. I love pure art and samplers made by young ladies are an art form. There is a market for antique samplers and the art market now appreciates samplers as art. In 2012 a sampler sold for $1,070,500. Mary Antrim stitched it around 1807.
I love studying samplers and have learned so much from it.